Red snapper: The season opens today for a short period of time. Deep-water locations (120 feet and deeper) will hold the best numbers. The expectation from most anglers seems to be the deeper you travel, the bigger the fish.
Red grouper: We're catching decent numbers of red grouper in the 70- to 80-foot depths. The best bait has been cut octopus tentacles. The tentacles wiggle when the current moves, attracting red grouper. If the wind is light, we drift. There have not been large numbers in a specific location this season, so this method can be effective. Drifting for longer distances allows you to investigate the many little holes on the bottom. Often a pothole will hold one or two keeper reds. On windy days we anchor over locations where we caught red grouper on previous trips. If you can give a spot a six-month break, the hole seems to fill back up with reds again.
Bonus: We've been getting a few kingfish to 20 pounds and mahimahi while bottom fishing in 80 feet. The mahimahi are small, but they are fun on a light spinning rod. Spanish sardines and pilchards have worked best. An occasional cobia will show up behind the boat, too.
Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 439-2628 or visit jawstoo.com.